Discover Eastern Europe: Sofia, Bulgaria
Sofia, it is the capital city of the Balkans country of Bulgaria. Bulgaria is not a very noticeable country by most Indonesian, but my experience living in the most multicultural city in the world, London, makes me aware of this country.
Summer 2018, I decided to spread my wings wider to the east part of Europe. I chose Bulgaria because I happen to know quite many Bulgarians in London who got me very curious to know more about this country. Since all of them come from Sofia, so there where I landed my 👣.
I stayed at a friend’s apartment in Silver City, near to Vitosha metro station. Silver City is a new built apartment blocks that considered as luxurious apartment complex in Sofia. The cost of a considerably luxurious one-bedroom apartment with 2 toilets and a balcony is about £600 per month. It does sound cheap for Londoners, but for local Bulgarians, it is very expensive as the average income of mid-level roles in Sofia, Bulgaria is around 1,000 BGN (Bulgarian Levs), which equals to £450 (about 510EUR or USD600). It is even still lower compared to the average earning of people in Jakarta, which is at around £430 that is equals to 488EUR (USD570).
However, considering the low average earning of local people (especially compared to the Londoners), the living cost in Sofia is also considerably incredibly cheap. 1-day travel ticket that covers metro (underground) and buses is only 4BGN, which equals to £1.80 (2.05EUR or USD2.4). Food in a nice restaurant costs around 8 – 10BGN per meal. If you go a little bit farther from the city centre, the food is much cheaper compared to the ones at the centre.
On our second day in Sofia, we decided to go to the gopnik area in Sofia where we still can see the old apartment blocks that are originally built by the Soviet Unions. The area called “надежда” (read – nadezhda), which translated from Russian means “Hope”.
Nadezhda is a district located in the north-western parts of Sofia, Bulgaria. It has its own metro station named the same, Nadezhda, on the blue line of M2. You might want to be careful and watch all your valuable belongings when you were in that area.
Not far from Nadezhda metro station, there is a bar house called Intrigue that serves super good Bulgarian classics, a plate full of small fish (Caca) and fries with white cheese. To make the experience more complete, have a local Bulgarian beer for your drink! Congratz, you are experiencing Bulgarian classic hangout dish now! 😀
How to get there?
From Nadezhda metro station, walk towards ul. “Kiril Drangov” road. Turn on the first right towards “Anastasia Lozanchev” road. Destination is near the corner just when you turned to the right. Map coordinate position at 42.7276917,23.2996917.
We had 3 portions of small fish (caca), 1 portion of fries, 4 local Bulgarian beers, 3 bottles of mineral water, 1 bottle of coke, 1 frappe, and 1 glass of Rakia, all of those billed us 30BGN (about £13.50 or 15.30EUR or USD18). Unbelievable! 😀
Another classic and must try in Bulgaria other than small fish and white cheese fries is Rakia. Rakia (ракия)is a Bulgarian National drink made by fruit (fermented grapes, plums, apricots, etc) that contains 40% ABV.
Now you know where to go for original local food with good price in Sofia, Bulgaria. 😉
If you are craving for truly local dish, my suggestion is to avoid the city centre and shopping malls, as well as the franchises.
The city centre is full of iconic old architectures, such as the iconic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the famous Ivan Vazov National Theatre, The Russian Church, the ruin of roman ancient, and some other old buildings from Soviet Union era. One of these buildings is now become the parliament house. One full day is more than enough for sigh-seeing at the city centre.
Another attraction in Sofia is the Vitosha mountain. Vitosha mountain is one of the Bulgarian’s pride. It is one of Sofia symbols and the closest site for hiking in the summer time or alpinism and skiing during the winter time.
In the winter time there is gondola and bus ride access directly to the top of the mountain. But in the summer, none of these are operating, so the only choice is to hike the 2,290 m high mountain. 😀
Other than hiking, there are also some spots for rock climbing and bouldering within the mountain. These activities also including ice climbing in the winter.
If you want to hear from more areas or countries, please be generous to share your funding to us! 😝